We are loving Joburg-based artist Maite Motsepe-Maponya’s bespoke home décor products. Maite, (which means beloved in Setswana), says Beloved by M. was birthed from a place ‘of healing and trying to find and redefine happiness and meaning in my life.’ She shares more on the brand, her design process, some thoughts on the future of SA design, and the 'influencer culture.'
How would you describe your product in three words?
Artistic, African and beautiful.
What do you think sets your designs/products apart?
The designs are all essentially big art pieces, I felt I needed to make that artwork more accessible to a much broader market through various forms of home items. I then endeavoured to assist in recreating that happiness for my customers by offering them the opportunity to personalise their journey through hand-drawn artworks of their choice on scatter cushions or napkins.
Please tell us a bit about your design process?
I hand draw all my art pieces with charcoal. I then play around with different fabrics, patterns, and colours. Once I have decided on them I then get gluing, in instances where the fabric has to mimic hair I will braid and twist it before gluing it to the art piece. The art piece is then photographed and resized for printing. In terms of the napkins, those I digitally redesign before having printed on fabric. That fabric is then made into cushions or napkins you see on the Beloved website.
Where do you source your fabric/materials?
In an effort to support my friends running their own businesses I source African fabrics from them, these friends are from different parts of the continent including here in South Africa.
What excites you most about the interior design and home decor space at the moment?
I am obsessing over the fresh organic feel in minimalist style spaces. The uses of natural materials and natural furnishings like wood, copper, and concrete and mixing neutral colours with a touch of vibrant colours or patterns to anchor a space. I'm also loving the 'bringing the garden into the home with a lot of greenery/plants' vibe.
What direction do you think South African design is taking right now?
What I've been seeing is that being more authentic, confident (be it through pattern, style, design or colour), being proudly African is increasingly 'cooler' than it was not too long ago. I love that! African fashion is getting more attention because we are showing up as being proudly African, owning and embracing our culture is trending, globally. There is so much power in that. I don't think that will die any time soon, I believe it will continue to increase in momentum.
How would you advice someone that doesn’t have a big budget when trying to decorate their home?
My favourite aunt has actually mastered and I've learned this from her. I once asked about her amazing vase collection and what she told me was that she buys big damaged vases specifically imported or expensive ones that one wouldn’t normally afford—most places actually get rid of their damaged stock so you can get them at a bargain. Glue them together, get creative and paint vintage brass metallic paint over the glued cracks and voila!
Favourite local fashion designer?
Thuli Mola, I love her brand Style Alert, and Rina Chunga, designer of Rich Factory who is Zambian-born but based here in Joburg.
Your thoughts on the 'influencer' culture?
Influencers are unrecognizable ads you can’t apply ad block to. It can get quite annoying when you’re browsing through your social media and constantly being bombarded with ‘influencer style’ posts. I think more substance should be placed at the core of influencer culture, but sadly humans seek social status. I rarely follow influencers and prefer authenticity. I must admit I have fallen prey to being flattered by likes and sharing the heck out of giveaway posts. I do however believe the ‘influencer culture’ will come to an end.